Keeping your parenting positive may be hard enough. But in months like August, with school starting and stress levels high as families transition back to routine schedules, positive parenting may seem near impossible. At Pennock Center for Counseling, we work with parents on parenting tools and techniques to create a more positive atmosphere at home. With the school year fast approaching, here are four important aspects of positive parenting that can make the transition back to school a positive one for you as well as your child.
Focus on feelings. Children are still in the process of identifying and labeling how they feel. By helping them identify their feelings, parents can demonstrate empathy while sticking firm to what they say. Next time your child blows up or shuts down, identify what they might be feeling and tell them in a sentence. For example, “That must make you sad that you didn’t get to sit next to your friend at school.” “I know you are angry that you can’t watch your show tonight, but school bedtime is at 8:30.”
Alternatives to the word “No.” No one likes to be told what they cannot do, and children are no exception. Instead of alienating children by telling them “No,” try fostering cooperation using the following techniques. First, say, “Yes” as often as possible. If your child wants to go outside tell him/her, “Yes, you may. After you finish your homework.” Second, give alternatives. If your child is crying to watch a movie right before bedtime, tell him/her, “Movies are for weekends. You may finish watching your show or read a book before bed.” Third, describe the problem. Your child continues to arrive late from school, and this sets the family schedule back. Calmly point out, “When people arrive later than planned this affects the family’s schedule.”
Set a routine. If we do not establish the routine we desire our children to follow, we cannot be angry if they do not follow it. As parents, set the bedtime for your child so that they can receive adequate sleep (nine hours average). Let your child know if advance about expected homework time, dinner time and household responsibilities so they can plan.
Focus on the positive. In anything in life, but especially parenting, we find the negative easier to spot than the positive. To foster positive behavior, you need to encourage that behavior. Forget the fact that your child just spilled his/her milk and praise them for how they cleaned up the mess. Perhaps you child dawdled for three hours before cleaning his/her room. Instead of chastising them for their tardiness, praise them for completing the task.
This list is by no means the end-all for positive parenting. It is a helpful start. If you are looking for a more in-depth look at parenting, join us at Pennock Center for Counseling for our parenting classes and mother’s support group.